8 Must-Do Yoga Poses

8 Must-Do Yoga Poses

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Practicing yoga outside helps you feel connected to nature.

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Enjoying a full-length studio yoga class with an instructor and other students to motivate you may seem like an impossibility with your busy schedule -- but you can create your own practice with eight must-do yoga poses. A benefit of an individual practice is the ability to perform your poses whenever and wherever you find yourself during the day. Even when you are unable to perform all the poses in one session, perform the asanas in five-minute sessions throughout your day to reap the benefits of a calmer mind, stronger body and more peaceful spirit.


Almost all styles of yoga recommend performing backbends, at least one forward bend, one twist, one sitting asansa and a final resting pose, according to Sukhasana is a simple cross-legged sitting pose, which can be performed for a few moments before other poses to center yourself and prepare for a longer practice, or used on its own for a few minutes of meditation and quiet to focus your mind.

Cat and Cow

Cat and Cow poses are a wonderful warm-up for the spine. These two poses work in concert with each other. You begin on your hands and knees in Tabletop position and then flex your spine from full arch to full rounding of the back. A few rounds of Cat and Cow will release lower back tension, which often creeps in while sitting at a desk all day.


Standing Forward Bend is a deceivingly simple-looking pose that can bring lower back relief and a quick revitalizing rush of energy. Erich Schiffmann teaches in his book “Moving into Stillness” that Uttanasana can also be used as a letting go practice. As you dangle your head and arms down toward the floor, allow yourself to relax and soften throughout the entire body. Let go of all effort in the pose.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward-Facing Dog, which is considered an inversion, is a great pick-me-up when you have been sitting too long. This traditional pose is part of the Sun Salutation series and can be used as a relaxation pose. Challenge yourself in this pose by making your arms and legs active and strong -- and when ready to rest, simply bend your knees and lower down into Balasana, or Child's Pose, until you feel ready to return to Down Dog.


Cobra is a backward bend that is also performed as part of Sun Salutations. As with all asanas, Cobra can be practiced in different stages according to your ability and flexibility. Baby Cobra lengthens out the back of the neck, creating space in the upper vertebrae and releasing tension from the shoulders.


Sitting Forward Bend is the perfect counter pose for Cobra. From Staff pose, hinge forward at the hips and reach out through your arms toward the feet. Rest your hands on your legs or hold onto your feet if comfortable. Yoga Basics advises this pose to calm the nervous system and stretch out the entire back body.

Parsva Sukhasana

Simple Twist can be performed in your chair, on the floor or even on your bed. Sitting up tall, relax your shoulders down your back and lift your chest slightly toward the ceiling. Place your left hand on the outside of the right thigh and gently twist and look over your shoulder. Hold for a few deep breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Benefits of twists include massaging of the internal organs, improved flexibility and spinal mobility.


Final relaxation, or Corpse pose, is a chance for your body, mind and spirit to process the yoga experience. Lying down on your back with your eyes closed, you slowly relax your entire body, your thoughts and finally you rest into a deeper peace within you. "Yoga Journal" recommends practicing five minutes of Savasana for every 30 minutes of yoga exercises.

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